How Feminists Can Fight Ageism
Getting older doesn’t have to mean fading away
I became a feminist in the course of writing Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well, and an activist against ageism in the course of growing older. The women’s movement taught us to claim our power and a movement against ageism will teach us how to hold onto it. If you’d like to be part of it, here are some places to start:
All change starts between our ears: how do you feel about your own aging?
What messages have you absorbed over the years? Whose interests do they serve? How do you think and talk about older people, and getting older? Are any of your close friends much older or younger? Warning: plenty of No shit/Oh shit moments ahead—confronting unconscious bias is uncomfortable. It’s also liberating. Once you start seeing ageism in the culture you see it everywhere, and that genie never goes back in the bottle.
Start a consciousness-raising group—they catalyzed the original women’s movement, and can be reinvented today as a powerful tool.
When women came together back in the 1960s to share their “personal” problems, they realized that they were up against political problems that required collective action. Download my free guide, Who Me, Ageist? How to Start a Consciousness-raising Group here. And check out all the good stuff on OLD SCHOOL, a clearinghouse of anti-ageism resources.
Start or join a group that’s dedicated to age equality. It doesn’t matter whether you read together, hike together, party together, or all of the above. Consider starting a local chapter of the Radical Age Movement, or a Gray Panthers chapter. Movements need actions: look for ways to show up that will make a difference, whether through writing and speaking or by showing up in brave and imaginative ways, like the nun who busted into a nuclear-weapons site to expose its vulnerability. Keep in mind that when we come together at all ages against any form of injustice, we dismantle ageism in the process. It’s all one struggle.
Ashton Applewhite will speak at NextTribe’s event, Screw Invisibility: Watch Older Women Change the World on Oct. 3rd in New York City.